I do not impress easily. This did it.

By: Brad Deel

I have a deep appreciation for the hard work and talent it takes to run fast.  I appreciate the hard work and talent it takes for a recreational runner to be out there dropping 15 minute 5K's - something I will never remotely approach.  I appreciate the hard work and talent it takes to run a sub 13:00 5K - and watching someone run that fast is a thing of beauty.  In the end though, these are folks who are making the best out of a random genetic accident.  I appreciate it but I am not so much impressed.  (I may catch some flames for that comment but it is the interwebs so I pretty much expect that).


However, I ran in the Union Mission Drumstick Dash 5K this morning and I saw someone on crutches.  She was short and her legs looked like they did not bend so this is not someone who is on crutches because she broke her leg recently.  I assume she had some kind of permanent condition.  (I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV nor do I trust Dr. Google so I will not speculate about what that condition might have been).  I finished the race and, as I typically do in non-goal 5Ks, took advantage of closed off streets to get in some additional speed work.  The course runs east for about 1.5 miles before looping back to the west.  I rested for about 5 minutes and then headed back out.  I went past the turn around point and was coming back toward the starting line and my car.  Not too far past the Mile 1 marker, I saw this competitor.  I thought, "if I have finished, rested for five minutes, and gotten 2/3 of the way back through the course while she\'s barely past Mile 1, there is no way she\'s going to go all the way to the turn."  I figured she was going to turn around somewhere before the marked turn around point.  I was wrong.


I finished my cool down and met up with some folks from the local running club and it is possible I might have had a couple of beers; maybe like a Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and a Trappistes Rochefort 8.  Maybe.  Eventually, everything had been taken down except the finish line.  The tents had been dismantled, the awards had been presented (I won a pie for being the fastest old fart), the volunteers had all left except for a couple at the finish line.  We knew this competitor was still out there.  Over 90 minutes after the race started and she was still out there.  I needed to get home to fix a sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving Dinner at the in-laws but I and 3 or 4 others stuck around.  We thought this competitor, more than anyone else, deserved a cheering section.


One hour and fifty minutes after the gun was fired, she crossed the finish line.  It\'s been a long time since I have been that impressed.  I imagine that she was in a lot of pain by the time she finished but she by god finished.  And she finished with a smile.  I made it a point to congratulate her.  A companion who had been with her the entire race said she had started exercising a few months ago and had so far lost 30 pounds and intended to keep going.  It must have gotten kind of dusty right about the time that I watched her make her way to the car because my eyes teared up a bit.


Yeah, it takes a lot of talent and a lot of hard work to run a fast 5K but it takes a lot more than I have in me to hang in there for nearly two hours in a 5K.  To hang in there long after everyone has gone home  Damn.  I am seriously impressed.  And I need to write a note the the race director giving him/her a big thumbs up for keeping the course open until she finished.


There was one other time I was privileged to witness something like this.  I paced someone to a 4 hour half marathon a couple of years ago.  It is great if you have a lot of talent and you put a lot of work into it but when you don\'t have the natural ability or when you have a physical impairment that makes movement difficult, but you get your ass out there and do it anyway, that is truly remarkable. 

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